Olivia Peplinski Biology
Elizabeth Danka Assistant Professor of Biology
Presentation Time: April 28, 2:30pm – 3pm
Burkholderia cepacia is a gram-negative bacterium found in water and soil that is known to cause infection in plants and humans. Limited treatments are available for this bacteria due to widespread antibiotic resistance and a lack of knowledge of the mechanisms of virulence used by B. cepacia. This work seeks to identify virulence factors needed for pathogenesis. Transposon mutagenesis in B. cepacia ATCC 25416 was used to generate mutants that were screened for defects in pathogenesis in an onion infection model and mutant 370 was selected for further studies. Recent data from the model demonstrate that the mutant produced smaller wound sizes beginning at 48 hours post-infection, indicating that the gene product may be involved in promoting infection in a host. Genetic characterization of mutant 370 determined that the mutation occurred in the thiG gene on chromosome 1, whose product is predicted to be a thiazole synthase, which is likely used in the metabolic processes of the bacteria and could play a role in infection. The transmembrane hydropathy plot suggests that the gene product is found in the cytoplasm, which corresponds to its expected use in the metabolism. Examination of the growth and biofilm production assays revealed that the thiG mutant displays stunted growth and limited biofilm production, suggesting that thiG is not involved in virulence but instead plays an important role in the basic metabolism of the bacteria. Future research will focus on determining thiG’s involvement in metabolism to determine if thiG could be an important target for antibacterials.